Thursday, 26 August 2010


Rubricarius has left a superb comment in my recent post ''Oh it is so on...'' and raises one or two issues I try to address on this blog. One of them is a reasonable argument for Tradition. Especially since Summorum Pontificum traditionalists have thrown older, more reasonable, arguments for traditional liturgy out the window in favour of a stupidly Ultramontane ''the Pope says so'' argument, which amounts (in my opinion) to little more than a rather fanatical legal positivism. I'd like to ask: what happens when John Paul III comes along and says that the content of Summorum Pontificum is void? Whom do you obey then? Summorum Pontificum is juridical nonsense, yea more, Papal juridical nonsense. If the Pope can override previous liturgical legislation, which legislation is binding for all time and which isn't? Which legislation is going to be altered slightly, or completely reversed, by a future Pope? Is nothing safe?

I would cordially invite any Traditionalist reader to provide me with actual evidence that the numquam abrogatam clause in Summorum Pontificum is supported by previous liturgical legislation, or whether it is the Pope making use of his already far-out-of-traditional-and-scriptural-proportions authority to simply override that legislation to appease the Lefebvrists. I'm not going to bite, so don't be reticent - I'm just the schismatic, heretical, extremist poison Hobbit who is always complaining about unreasonable things...

I expect that no Trad is going to comment so I marvel that I bothered to write this post.


  1. The "never abrogated" clause seems meaningless. It was clearly, in practice, abrogated if you needed an indult to say it. It may never have been formally forbidden positively, but if the practice of the Church was that priests only had permission to say the current edition of the liturgical books, and required special permission to say anything else...than that means anything else is, by default, abrogated implicitly even if not explicitly.

    It is a strange double-speak really.

  2. Patricius,

    You flatter me too much. I am only rehearsing the arguments of scholars like Grillo, Cameron-Mowat, Sodi, Jeffery and the rest.

    A Sinner - I'm glad we can agree on something!

  3. Nothing IS safe in the modern Roman Catholic church. NOTHING. Which is why I am now Orthodox. All the pope has to do to prove that he CAN do something is to DO it. If he COULDN'T do it, the Holy Spirit would not let him. In practice that is how modern Catholicism works. If Pope Benedict XVI walked out onto the balcony of St. Peter's and recited the shahada, Muhammad would be in the calendar of saints the following morning. And Mark Shea and Father Z would be rationalizing it and attacking any "schismatic" trads who dared question it. I know all these people are far holier and more intelligent that I am but that does not change the fact that to me it all seems transparently idiotic. The modern Roman Church is a mad house. Full stop.

  4. "In practice that is how modern Catholicism works. If Pope Benedict XVI walked out onto the balcony of St. Peter's and recited the shahada, Muhammad would be in the calendar of saints the following morning. And Mark Shea and Father Z would be rationalizing it and attacking any "schismatic" trads who dared question it."

    I blame Pius IX and "Pastor Aeternus"...

  5. There is an article on the LMS website by Dom Nicola Bux and S. Vitiello called:

    " Was the Old Rite Abrogated? "

    inter alia it says:

    "Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, whom Paul VI put in charge of the post-conciliar liturgical reform, wanted to obtain an explicit ruling to the effect that the Novus Ordo Missae of 1970 abrogates the Old Mass, so that the latter would be suppressed de jure. To apply for such a ruling to the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of Conciliar Documents, he needed permission from the Cardinal Secretary of State. On 10 June 1974 the Secretary of State refused to give the requested permission on the grounds that such an attempt would be seen as “casting odium on the liturgical tradition” (A. Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975, The Liturgical Press, 1990, pp 300-301)."

  6. No, no, no!!
    I don't have a clue to all the "legislation" business...I'm just clueless...but I will not go over to Eastern Orthodoxy nor Anglo-Catholic;
    Patrick, you're doing something important may take a lot of time, but don't give up;
    Canon Jerome: "modern Catholicism" does NOT work thus; I respect your opinion, believe me, but I do not accept this as credible.
    There is a lot of crap flying; let's just hold tight, pray, honor our Lord and wait this out.
    I know, I know.
    I'm probably sounding like a "whatever" (don't have the name for it); I do love Tradition and the good Lord.
    I just don't know what to make of all of this.
    Prayer; more prayer.

  7. Bryan, I am not talking here about the Old Rite but about the liturgical books of 1962, which were juridically and successively abrogated by liturgical legislation throughout the 1960s (Sacram Liturgiam 1964, Inter OEcumenici 1964, the New Order of Mass 1965, Tres Abhinc Annos 1967 and finally Missale Romanum itself, 1969). At no point during all this legislation were the liturgical books of 1962 allowed as an option.

  8. Nazareth priest, You insist that I am mistaken and that modern Catholicism is not simply whatever the reigning pontiff claims it to be today. All right, prove it to me. Can you even imagine a papal decree or directive that you would not obey? Does your camel's back even have a hypothetical straw? Distinguish for me, in practice, not in theory, between the substance of the Catholic faith and the will of the reigning pope.

  9. Bryan,

    Precisely! The canonists who argued for the non-abrogation of the 'old rite' (let's not define that for the moment) pointed out that the standard clause towards the end of Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum did not abrogate anything having protection of immemorial or centennial custom. To do so specific mention has to be made - c.f. Pius X's Divino afflatu and the traditional Psalter. People such as Capponi, DuLac, Glover etc argued that the 'old rite' therefore could not have been abrogated, BUT, no one suggested that the 1962MR had not been abrogated. (At the time most Traddies were using what we might term the 'pre-Pius XII' rite.)

    However, this is not what Summorum Pontificum says. It says the 1962MR was 'never jurdicially abrogated' and doesn't use the terms you quote from Mgr. Bugnini. No defender of the 'old rite' ever argued that before the 1984 indult's appearance that the 1962MR had not been abrogated.

    The same argument accepts that rites not having the protection of immemorial or centennial custom would have been abrogated by Paul VI's legislation - so the right to use the 1962 MR, being less than ten years old was simply abrogated (and of course derogated before by the changes of 1964/5, 1967 etc.) At no time after 1964 was it legal, according to the Canon Law of the RCC to use the 1962MR before John Paul II's indult.)

    One needs to define what one is referring too the 1962MR is not the 'old rite' and the paleo-Traddies like Evelyn Waugh, Fr. Pontifex etc would be horrified at the equation.

    The interesting question is to try and define what immemorial and centennial custom has actually protected. Custom can also of course be lost if a rite/practice is not followed for a period of time...

    To be fair Professor Huels argues that since 1568/1570 immemorail custom did not apply because the liturgy was being authorised and controlled by positive law. Whilst he knows significantly more about Canon Law than I do I would suggest, as Capponi points out, that legislation does not necessarily replace custom but effectively can run 'parallel' to it and survive the change of law - certainly if the praxis continues.

  10. Rubricarius, bravo!

    Bryan... look up the difference in doctrine and history of the Church before and after Pius IX and particularly "Pastor Aeternus"...

  11. Tawser: Please calm down!!
    I'm only making some commentary; maybe flawed, probably.
    My one claim; argue about it, if you will; the Church is a "living organism".
    If, as some want to have it, we are "stuck" at some point, then how is it "living"?
    Mistakes and prudential decisions can be flawed, no doubt about it.
    But to reject the Petrine authority merely because things don't suit our "liking"(and I'm sorry, but scholarly arguments and quibbles can be based upon "opinion", yeah?)?
    That's my question.
    What if, in the future, things revert to the "
    then is Petrine authority okay?

  12. Upon further reflection:
    and I do need to reflect since I am so unaccustomed to "these waters", if you'll excuse me.
    Pope Benedict XVI is not going to issue some absolutely "off the wall" mandate to anyone;
    this is my point...
    apostolic succession; the role of Vicar of Christ, the Successor of Saint Peter is really the issue here.
    Popes make bad decisions sometimes; no doubt about it; this "liturgical mess" we are are in is a very clear example.
    If we do not accept adherence to Peter, we are not Catholic.
    And even if, we must undergo great trials in the Sacred Liturgy, it is God's will for us in this moment, in this time.
    St. John of the Cross speaks very clearly of not being attached to particular aspects of any rite or spiritual practice; you may reject this, but this is part of the patrimony of the Latin Church. Our spiritual perfection may reside in being docile to accepting things that we do not agree with yet must adhere to, in order to belong to God, so that we are not "attached" to anything material or sensual.
    Argue, as you may, about this.
    But St. John of the Cross is a Doctor of the Church, and an eminent theologian. His teaching is universal in the Latin Church. He is only attempting to help us cleave unto God Himself and not the "mere things of God".

  13. Nazareth Priest,

    I do not believe the arguments are about 'liking' anything, or 'opinion', but about truth and credibility.

    Patricius has posed the question, which I paraphrase as "show how the 1962MR was not abrogated by subsequent legislation". The only answers presented here, and elsewhere, resort to generic terms such as 'old rite' thereby ignoring the relevant legislation, or follow 'the pope can do whatever he likes' model which 'Tawser' has commented on above.

    The wider issue must surely be why orthopraxis in the Western rites of the RCC degenerated into heteropractic legal prescriptions in the first place. The vibrant 'essence' of the very much alive liturgy one sees in the East is in such marked contrast.

    Kind regards, R.

  14. Nazareth Priest

    This is the "Roman Circularity": setting up a Roman Catholic understanding of the issue (whatever it is) and then simply appealing to it. Respectfully, to the Orthodox, it's as plain as pikestaff that your tradition is not "living" at all, but stone dead - and that what has killed it, progressively and over several centuries, is precisely this false understanding of "the Petrine authority", exclusively and ontologically identified with the Roman bishop.

    "Traditionalism" is an artificial contruct: it's something that happens when Tradition has ceased. RC "Traditionalists" are trapped in a series of hopeless contradictions - bound to the assertion of the very conditions that render Tradition impossible. In the forefront of these is the whole paradigm of "doctrinal development" (itself a necessary concommitant to emergent Papal claims) requiring the past to be understood always through the prism of the present; reading subsequent assertions back into the record of earlier conditions. This is of course the very opposite of "Tradition", which has therefore to be redefined as the exercise of ecclesiastical authority in transmitting a series of core propositions merely, or the subject of conservative sentiment with regard to historic forms.

  15. Tawser touched on the "Roman Circularity" on another thread, to which I meant to add a comment. Several of us here will remember a long discussion on another blog a few weeks ago, arising from an uncompromisingly aggressive and bewilderingly daft attack on the Orthodox by an otherwise intelligent RC blogger, who remained throughout resolutely oblivious of its elementary failure to get anywhere near its target. Demonstrating unassailably, by means of RC arguments erected upon RC assumptions that only the Roman Catholic Church fits the Roman Catholic understanding of the Church, demonstrates nothing whatsoever.

  16. Father it would be interesting to see the context of your reference to St John of the Cross, because as you present it here it seems strikingly at variance with the conclusions of Nicaea II, and of the Church’s martyria in the Iconoclast Crisis generally. Then, as now, underpinning an identical concern for “material” things accessible to the senses, was commitment to the Incarnation. Now, as then, the enemy of Orthodoxy is a creeping, functional Manichaeansism which would reduce the visible church to a Platonic abstraction.

  17. Nazareth priest, I am not sure why you are asking me to calm down when all I did was ask a question, a question which I believe you've answered. If I understand you correctly, there is nothing the pope can teach or demand to which you will not submit. Therefore the will of Benedict XVI is the content of the Catholic faith. And if the will of his successor is in flagrant contradiction to BXVL's will, you'll submit to that too. Thank you for confirming my suspicion that "Catholicism" is a name without content. For the longest time I used to blame "liberals" and "progressives" for the crisis in the Roman Church. But it seems to me now that it is the "conservative" Catholic determination to confuse the Stockholm Syndrome with the virtue of obedience that has done the lion's share of the damage.

  18. Moretben, your as ever wise comment and contribution here is most welcome.

    I shall say little more (since you have already spoken wisely enough for all of us) than this: how can Traditionalist Catholics hold onto the infallibism of Pius IX and the 20th century popes, in all sincerity, and yet still maintain that what Pius XII did to the Sacred Liturgy was wrong, as plainly it was?

    Are we to believe that what Cum Nostra, Maxima Redemptionis, Rubricarum Instructum etc did to the Sacred Liturgy are good, wholesome, infallible ex cathedra rulings, binding for all time, and that they safeguard the Sacred Liturgy? Where does Papal Infallibility come into all that nonsense?

  19. how can Traditionalist Catholics hold onto the infallibism of Pius IX and the 20th century popes, in all sincerity, and yet still maintain that what Pius XII did to the Sacred Liturgy was wrong, as plainly it was?

    Oh, don't ask! You're inviting an avalanche of legalist chicanery involving the various levels of magisterial engagement and how to discern them (as though it were possible to find half a dozen educated Catholics capable of providing fewer than seven incompatible accounts of this), aimed at demonstration why it isn't engaged at all in the promulgation of liturgical rites.

    More tortuous apparatus, in other words, constructed to protect the Big Lie at the centre of it all. It's degrading nonsense. Liturgy is dogmatic and dogma is liturgical. Full stop. The Roman authorities, acting under Papal mandate, committed the entire Latin Church to heterodox innovation and dogmatic distortion for upwards of 30 years, by every means at their command, up to and including the most extreme canonical sanctions. Somehow or other, though, the "magisterium" wasn't engaged...

    So that's all right, then.

  20. Whoa!
    Sorry if I caused a "riot" here!!
    But St. John of the Cross is very clear about being "attached" to "outward" signs, significations, rituals, etc.
    That's not to say that we just accept "whatever"...please, believe me, when I say that the authentic Tradition of the Roman Church is most important and precious to me;
    but a "living tradition", for good or for worse, requires that we have an attitude of
    "obedience"; which doesn't mean that we necessarily accept everything hook, line and sinker; it means that we give ourselves "in the obedience of faith" to the living voice of Christ in His Church.
    Liturgical matters have to be reckoned with, no doubt about it; but otherwise, we have one scholar fighting against another...where is the authority in all of that?
    And, sorry, if I was intemperate, Tawser; I just thought you were being a bit "hysterical"; my apologies...
    I don't want to make enemies here; I think very highly of you, Patrick, and the rest, who are giving very fruitful points for my meditation and consideration.
    Prayers and blessing!